Scarcity and rising prices of river sand have led to a gradual shift in construction practices across the real estate industry. A popular alternative, manufactured sand has become a common raw material which is available at an affordable rate and is environment friendly too.
The scarcity of the most rudimentary construction material – sand, has been a point of concern for realtors for a long time now. Recently, there were reports suggesting an increase of 300 percent in sand prices in the last one decade. The unprecedented hike in the cost of this raw material led technology to take over and a gradual shift was noted towards the use of ‘Manufactured Sand’ or M-Sand. Today, M-sand has largely replaced river sand in the construction industry. In addition to being economic and ecological, it has several other advantages. Here’s everything you would like to know about M-sand.
What is M-sand?
Explaining the difference between manufactured sand and natural sand, Rajan Bandelkar, Vice President, NAREDCO West says, “Manufactured sand is a substitute of river for construction purposes. It is produced by crushing rocks, quarry stones or larger aggregate pieces into sand-sized particles. Natural sand, on the other hand, is the naturally formed sand extracted from river beds. The crushed sand is cubical in shape with grounded edges, washed and graded as a construction material. The size of manufactured sand (M-Sand) is less than 4.75mm.”
Advantages of manufactured sand
- More cost effective than the natural sand: Manufactured sand can be produced in areas closer to construction sites, bringing down the cost of transportation and providing an assurance of consistent supply.
- Compliant with the new European Standards: Manufactured sand can be used as aggregates in screed and concrete mixes, as per EN13139. It can be used as a replacement or as a blended mixture of natural sand.
- Less disruptive to the environment: The land used for quarrying rock can be reclaimed for commercial/residential purposes or used for wetland restoration. This can help in reducing the sand mining from river beds.
- Lesser impurities and good working properties: Manufactured sand is free of silt and clay particles, and has denser particle packing than natural sand. It also offers higher flexural strength, better abrasion resistance, higher unit weight and lower permeability.
Talking about the preferential use of manufactured sand over river sand, Manju Yagnik, Vice-Chairperson, Nahar Group says, “Demand for manufactured fine sand aggregates for making concrete is increasing day by day as river sand cannot meet the rising demand of the construction sector. Natural river sand takes millions of years to form. M-sand is well graded in the required proportion. It does not contain organic and soluble compounds that affect the setting time and properties of cement, thus, maintaining the required strength of concrete. It does not contain impurities such as clay, dust and silt coatings and does not need as much water as in the case of river sand which impairs the bond between cement paste and aggregate. It, thus, increases the quality and durability of concrete.”
How is it manufactured?
The sand is manufactured in a three stage crushing process. Anubhav Aggarwal, Managing Director, RNA Corp informs, “The raw material is either granite or basalt rock. The Vertical Shaft Impact (VSI), also referred as sand making machine, is in the Tertiary Stage. The process adopted is similar to the river sand generation by nature. The VSI applies the principle of rock on rock collision at a high velocity shaping the sand particles. The plant works on the principle of continuous feed in a closed circuit and adopts the technique synonymous and comparable to nature's production of river sand. The complete manufacturing process takes minutes when compared to nature which happens over millions of years.”
With several advantages over river sand, M-sand is fast replacing the former in a construction of both infrastructure and real estate. In the latter, responsible developers are increasingly switching to manufactured sand as it can be used for concreting, tile bedding and brickwork mortars, using appropriate admixtures/additives.